Push for gun safety regulation goes on.
Greg Sargent: The president’s push for expanded background checks failed, but that doesn’t mean the push for gun control is over — far from it. The defeat of Manchin-Toomey was only round one in what will likely be a long battle to build a new constituency for stricter gun laws to reduce the country’s persistent gun violence.
To wit, Politico reports this morning that Vice President Joe Biden-who will appear tonight at a South Carolina Democratic dinner-plans to take “trips around the country to stump for the expanded background checks and gun trafficking laws that failed to pass the Senate last month.”
In particular, he will travel to the home states of Senators Kelly Ayotte, Max Baucus, Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowsi, each of whom has seen a precipitous drop in their approval rating since voting against background checks. Baucus is retiring next year, and Ayotte and Murkowski aren’t up for reelection until 2016. But Begich is running next year, and might be vulnerable to immediate pressure. Even Ayotte has something to worry about — she will run for a second term during a presidential election, where Democratic voters are energized and more numerous. At some point, she will have to appeal to non-Republicans.
And that will mean distancing herself from a National Rifle Association that has walked further and further into the waters of extremism.
Obviously, these appearances serve two purposes — to put potential defectors on the spot, thereby winning more background check votes, and to make gun safety an issue in the 2014 races. Democrats clearly have polling that shows the issue is a potential winning strategy for the party to hold the Senate; otherwise, it’s hard to see them risking putting Democratic senators on the hot seat.
Once again, Republicans find their traditional wedge issues turning against them. They’ve lost immigration and gay rights, they’ve lost reproductive freedom and the environment, and now guns are a loser too. If Democrats turn this into an issue-based election, Republicans lose.
So count on this being a wedge issue election and expect the GOP to find themselves on the sharp end of those wedges.
The US Senate, where being held morally responsible for your vote is considered 115 times more dangerous than a gun.
ThinkProgress: “Shame on you!” Patricia Maisch and Lori Haas yelled in rapid succession at the 46 senators who had just voted to kill a compromise amendment to expand background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or online. The women were sitting in the gallery with a large group of gun violence victims as the Senate responded to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut by defeating the measure advocates and law enforcement officials consider crucial to keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
The pair has first-hand experience with the consequences of the broken system. In 2011, Maisch was hailed as a hero for disarming Tucson shooter Jared Loughner by preventing him from reloading a fresh magazine. Haas’ daughter Emily was shot twice during the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 and survived, leading her to become a proponent of stronger gun regulations. But on Wednesday afternoon, the two women faced tighter scrutiny for interrupting a Senate proceeding than many individuals seeking to purchase guns.
As they left the Senate gallery, a police officer approached and asked them to follow him. The three walked downstairs to a public hallway, where they were peppered with questions: “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” “What are your Social Security numbers?” The officer left to run a background check on the women, who were instructed to sit on a bench. Another uniformed officer watched over them, even escorted Haas to the bathroom and told her she couldn’t lock the stall door.
“The entire ordeal stretched for almost two hours — approximately 115 minutes longer than a background check at a federal gun dealer,” the report tells us.
Behold the dreadful irony…
New York Times editorial board tears NRA’s Senate stooges a new one.
New York Times: For 45 senators, the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a forgotten tragedy. The toll of 270 Americans who are shot every day is not a problem requiring action. The easy access to guns on the Internet, and the inevitability of the next massacre, is not worth preventing.
Those senators, 41 Republicans and four Democrats, killed a bill on Wednesday to expand background checks for gun buyers. It was the last, best hope for meaningful legislation to reduce gun violence after a deranged man used semiautomatic weapons to kill 20 children and six adults at the school in Newtown, Conn., 18 weeks ago. A ban on assault weapons was voted down by 60 senators; 54 voted against a limit on bullet magazines.
Newtown, in the end, changed nothing; the overwhelming national consensus to tighten a ridiculously lax set of gun laws was stopped cold. That’s because the only thing that mattered to these lawmakers was a blind and unthinking fealty to the whims of the gun lobby.
The Times goes on to cite an article they published detailing how ridiculously easy it is to buy a gun online and how those unchecked purchases have resulted in violence. The idea that we can’t possibly do anything about this, the argument that the bloody, brutal, stupid status quo represents the very best that we’re capable of, is damning indictment of the gun lobby, their pet politicians, and the paranoid cowards who fetishize firearms and fantasize that every slightest regulation is an attempt to strip them of their
sex toys Patriotic Tyrant Eradicators.
“It’s now up to voters to exact a political price from those who defied the public’s demand, and Mr. Obama was forceful in promising to lead that effort,” they write, “Wednesday was just Round 1, he said; the next step is to replace those whose loyalty is given to a lobby rather than the people.”
Shame on you! Shame on you!
Lori Haas, whose daughter was wounded in the April 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, and Patricia Maisch, who knocked an ammunition magazine out of the hands of Jared Loughner in Jan. 2011, to U.S. senators after they voted 54-46 to defeat an amendment on gun background checks. (via nedhepburn)
Read our full story here.
GOP “pulls the plug” on Mark Sanford’s Senate campaign.
Politico: National Republicans are pulling the plug on Mark Sanford’s suddenly besieged congressional campaign, POLITICO has learned — a potentially fatal blow to the former South Carolina governor’s dramatic comeback bid.
Blindsided by news that Sanford’s ex-wife has accused him of trespassing and concluding he has no plausible path to victory, the National Republican Congressional Committee has decided not to spend more money on Sanford’s behalf ahead of the May 7 special election.
“Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time, the NRCC will not be engaged in this special election,” said Andrea Bozek, an NRCC spokeswoman.
I love the happy talk in that last paragraph; we’re supposed to believe that they’re pulling out because Sanford doesn’t need their help. Hilarious, but pretty much necessary. They don’t want to blow any more money on his campaign (meaning they believe it’s doomed), but there’s no point in shoveling in dirt either — it’s one thing to drop him, it’s another to kill his candicay. After all, he’s still in it and there’s still the slimmest of slim chances he could win. They don’t want to throw the baby out wth the bathwater.
But still, this thing is pretty much done. Once again, I offer my congratulations to to Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the next Senator from the state of South Carolina.
President target of second ricin letter.
Raw Story: A letter address to President Barack Obama was being tested for the poison ricin on Wednesday.
A law enforcement source told CNN that the letter was “very similar” to a letter sent to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) that tested positive for ricin on Tuesday. The Associated Press was also told that both letters were being treated in the same manner.
A Secret Service spokesperson confirmed to CNN that the letter addressed to Obama contained a “suspicious substance.” The letter was reportedly intercepted at an off-site mail facility and did not make it to the White House.
The report is updated with news that the “FBI confirmed in a statement that the letter sent to President Obama initially tested positive for the poison ricin.” Further, “a third ‘suspicious envelope’ was sent to Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) office. Parts of two Senate office buildings have been cleared.”
It’s believed that there’s no connection between the Marathon bombing and these letters.